Arlington, a small, quiet little town just across the border in Vermont, isn’t Broadway, and it’s certainly not Hollywood. But for Jim Raposa, at this point in his life, that’s just fine.
“A friend of mine from high school asked me if I had ever thought about teaching for a living, and at this point in my career it seemed like a good match,” said Raposa, who moved from California to Vermont six years ago with his wife, Claudia, and began teaching at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vt. “So, my wife and I moved up here to Arlington and we love it. It’s been great.”
A classic song-and-dance man whose performing credits include “Cats” on Broadway and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III” on the big screen, Raposa is happy and content teaching theater courses these days, but he’s also keeping his performing chops in fine form by heading over to Washington County and appearing at Fort Salem Theater, where he’s becoming something of a regular doing one-man shows.
This month, however, he will be sharing the stage with three other actors in an original work by Jay Kerr and Al Budde called “Significant Others” beginning Friday night at the Fort Salem and running for two weekends. It is the fifth play written by Kerr, the producing artistic director at Fort Salem, and Budde, his writing partner.
WHERE: Fort Salem Theater, 11 E. Broadway, Salem
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through Aug. 26
HOW MUCH: $30-$18
MORE INFO: 854-9200, www.fortsalemtheater.com
Raposa is not only starring in the show, he’s directing it.
“This is my third summer up here working with Jay, and I’m really excited about this piece for a variety for reasons,” said Raposa, who grew up in Concord, Mass., and went on to get his bachelor of fine arts degree from Emerson College in Boston.
“It’s a play about relationships, about a husband and wife, couples, best friends and business partners. It’s from a man’s viewpoint, and how we’re always looking at women. So, it shows our flaws, but it’s also about friendships and how love does prevail.”
Raposa recently performed a one-man show about his own career called “Song and Dance, Man!” Last summer it was another one-man show about the classic song-and-dance man, “George M. Cohan Tonight!” Raposa won’t be alone on the stage this time around, and that’s just fine with him.
“The other reason I’m so excited about this play is the cast I’m working with,” he said. “I feel like I’m working with real professionals again. I’ve worked all over the place, and to have a cast of this caliber and to produce a show like we’re doing way up here is just amazing.”
Joining him on stage will be Bill Carmichael, Kathleen Devine and Rosie Spring. Carmichael also appeared on Broadway in “Cats,” and has performed in regional theater productions of “Oklahoma!” and “Carousel,” while Devine has done a number of television soaps along with national tours of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” “Hello Dolly!” and “My Fair Lady.” Spring, meanwhile, has done national tours of “42nd Street” and “A Christmas Carol,” and, like her co-stars this month at Fort Salem, has appeared here before.
“We’ve been looking for something that Jim and Bill could do together, and I was very happy when we got a commitment from Bill last fall for this summer,” said Kerr. “What we’ve done is kind of turn something like ‘The Sunshine Boys’ into a musical where these two guys have worked together for a long time and have just about had it with each other. We examine marriages and we examine partnerships, and how things change when sex becomes involved.”
Kerr, who taught drama at his alma mater, Princeton University, and spent much of his career in the theater industry in New York City, is happy to have a performer like Raposa at his disposal.
“He’s a dancer, singer and an actor — a true triple threat,” Kerr said. “He started out as a singer, and then he taught himself how to tap. He’s a true professional, he’s a joy to work with and he always shows up prepared.”
Raposa, who also worked with Carmichael in the Los Angeles production of “Ragtime,” said singing was the thing that came most easily to him.
“I started singing when I was in grade school and really didn’t start training in dance and acting until college,” he said. “Singing was always the thing I was most comfortable with, but I really took to dancing and acting, too. I really love it all, and that’s why Jay and I did the one-man show about my life in the theater earlier this summer. It went very well, we got pretty good houses and a good response, and I’m hoping we can fill the house for this show as well.”
The four other musicals created by Kerr and Budde and performed at Fort Salem were “Breakfast Epiphanies,” “Corn! The Musical,” “StarCrossed” and “Senior Moments.”
“This show is basically three plays with a couple of songs in between them,” said Kerr. “Al and I were talking about a mutual friend who was having trouble with his wife — they have since divorced — and then we started thinking about all the married couples that we could never imagine getting divorced because they’re just perfect together.”
“It’s predominantly a comedy, but it runs the gamut and has some pretty dramatic moments in it,” said Raposa. “It also has songs and some great dance numbers. It’s a great evening of theater for everybody.”